Saturday, August 8, 2009

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Steve went to the Greensboro Curb Market this morning for our usual weekly goodies. We always get our whole milk from the Homeland Creamery. Often we get their butter, but they were out this morning. My friend, June, from the Calico Dairy also has incredible butter - very smooth and creamy like European Butter, but he forgot to go by there as he was running around telling everyone about our first egg!

We got a roasting chicken from John Handler, Weatherhand Farm, and I will cook it tomorrow. He always leaves such a long neck on them and I cook this up for my dog, Missy (yes, I painstakingly take all the meat off the neck and don't give her the whole thing.) His chickens are a Cornish Rock meat bird. They are raised out in the open and have a pretty happy chicken life. Speaking of chicken - it always cracks me up to read labels on chicken and egg products when they claim that the birds have been fed a vegetarian diet - I think, how sad! Chickens are not vegetarians, they love bugs and worms. You should see Oliver, my neighbor's 7 year old son, come over and dig up a big handful of worms out of the compost pile to feed the chickens, they love him!

Lastly, we got our CSA bag from our friends, Pat and Brian Bush, of Handance Farm. We have used their community supported agriculture program for 2 years now and we are never disappointed. CSA programs are when you buy, pre-season, a share of the produce that will come from the upcoming farm season. Every week you get a bag of fresh produce and you never know what you'll get so it's like having a weekly food b'day present! It forces you to be a little creative in the kitchen, but I love that!

Today we got 1 pound of slicing tomatoes, 1 pound of Juliette tomatoes (they are the ones in the bowl in the picture and are similar to mini plum tomatoes.) I dehydrated 12 pints of Juliettes last week and I will be eating these all winter. After dehydrating them, I soak them in olive oil, then I pulverize them in the food processor. Then I add tablespoons onto pasta dishes, salads and in casseroles, meatloaves and egg dishes. There was also a pre-packed tomato salad which beats any bag salad mix you'll get at the grocery store. This must be eaten today or tomorrow. I sometimes use these ingredients when making a Tuscan bread salad vegetable mix that becomes lunch for days. We got about 6 sweet bell peppers of all colors and shapes. I love the unique texture and feel of real food. Industrial agriculture forces all produce into uniform shapes and sizes for ease in processing - they take the soul of a piece of produce and make it generic - yuck! And we got 1 1/2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes which are just the best. I love getting fresh potatoes that I know haven't been held in Controlled Atmospheric storage (CA) for up to a year and then shipped to the grocery store so we unknowing consumers can get old veggies. How many times have you gotten produce that goes bad within days of coming into your house - well, that's because it was old when it got to the store, despite the CA system.

So, really - quite a nice haul for the week! I might have to hit the market on Wednesday for a few mid-week items. I don't have a plan for this week as I am enjoying the spontaneity of the last two weeks of summer before school starts.


1) it's good to see dirt on your produce - it makes me feel happy to smell earthy soil from newly dug potatoes. Do you remember that smell - the smell of healthy dirt, of your childhood?

2) it's good to find bugs on your produce - they are annoying but, they mean that chances are high that it's organic produce and you are not consuming pesticides or sanitized produce. When I find a bug or a worm I celebrate and cut the little bugger off and throw it out to the chickens - chicken treats!

Friday, August 7, 2009

News Updates and Finding a Family - part 2

Exciting week all around! Here's the news...

First things first - one of our 3 backyard chickens laid it's first egg today! A perfect, small white egg - right in the middle of the backyard - forget the fancy nest box they have filled with straw - let's plop it here by the hose! Oh well, we couldn't be more pleased and we are honoring it and waiting a day or two for a second so that we can actually have an omelet.

On Wednesday I met with Morgan Josey-Glover from the Greensboro News and Record for a local lunch at the Lindley Filling Station restaurant. She then wrote a nice piece for GreenNotes about my project. See her blog here:

This story was picked up by the American Dietetics Association as part of their RDs in the news and they linked the story. So I heard from half a dozen very supportive dietitians across the country! I am not alone in my quest.

The current issue of the UNCG Alumni Magazine came out this week and it had a story "Where does your garden grow?" about three UNCG professors who are dedicated to improving the local food economy - I was included and there are a couple of pictures of the backyard chickens. See the story at the link:

So, quite a week all in all!! But still, no family/couple in sight. I have had some great ideas for finding them, not the least of which is stalking the corner fast food joints for regulars! More realistically I could ask some primary care physicians for help. I hesitate only slightly as I want a relatively healthy family because I don't want to be tied up with clinical outcomes - this project is about so much more than lowering someone's cholesterol. I may also work with our Greensboro Children's Museum to advertise for a family, as they are starting an Edible Schoolyard in conjunction with Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Foundation. What a great tie-in, especially if the family has children!

So, why would a family/couple want to take on my project. Well, if they don't cook at all they will be getting a year's worth of free cooking lessons from a professional. If the participants really do eat out daily then this project will, almost assuredly, save them money. When you consider that we pay a slight premium for organic foods a family who eats out may still see some savings, but the real savings are not documented as there is, as yet, no cost benefit analysis for how much eating organically can save you on medical costs later in life. We are not a preventative healthcare nation and we should be because that is where the real savings for all of us will lie.

This will be a project that can bring a family closer together and provide a legacy for their children as "remember the year we changed our life" - you don't, well don't worry it's all documented!

And lastly, we will have fun! I find such supreme joy in teaching people about how to be a success in their kitchens that you won't even know you are learning. So, people, please help me find someone to take this opportunity.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Finding the Family

I am going to start a project that has been in my head for at least the last two years. I wanted it to become a documentary film, but being short the 500K needed I thought I would start this way and at least I would be moving forward and helping others.

The idea: to take a family (or a couple) that are living a very fast food lifestyle and help them, over the course of a year, to become locavores. Locavore being a person who tries to eat more local foods, cook from scratch, buy more foods according to seasonal, local and organic precepts. I want to document the challenges and the joys of discovering that the food we eat can make our lives different. If someone wants to learn to preserve foods we can learn to can or dehydrate them. If you want a garden, let's start it. And, if you want urban chickens then I am here to teach you.

The idea is not to make anyone lose 100 pounds or get off their diabetes medication, but to find joy in the local foods community that Guilford County offers. If my participants do get healthier then what a great bonus, but it won't be the main purpose of the project. I can promise that by continuing down the path of the fast food lifestyle you won't get healthier so I guess my way may almost guarantee a positive change.

My ultimate goal is that by changing the way we eat we can change the world - one bite at a time.

So, I need to find a family/couple who wants to embark on this journey. I don't want a big family so, no more than two kids please and it is best if they are school age because I want everyone to document how they feel about the journey. I want the whole family to be willing to blog about the process and have their pictures/videos taken (who knows, maybe this will end up in a doc film someday?) This will also cost some time commitments and a little extra cash (possibly, but maybe not much more than the current food budget.) So, a family who has each kid going off in 6 directions constantly is not the family I want to start with - it's the family I want to help after my own feet are wet.

So, who am I that I want to do this. I am a Registered Dietitian who doesn't care much about "classic nutrition" meaning I am not here to put anyone on a diet. I believe that real foods will cure most of what ails us and that it is the processed food that we eat that is causing a lot of our societal bad health and obesity. This is not a research project and it has no funding and no purpose other than my own dreams to help others learn where there food comes from and how to prepare it. What is that classic quote, "give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him to fish and prepare salmon croquettes and he eats deliciously for a lifetime!"

I want to teach real people with real busy lives that eating real food is easy and fun and the healthiest option for a dozen reasons - not just good health. I cook, work and have a 5 year old little girl. I have not always had perfect health or a slim waistline. (Actually I still don't have either, but I am a heck of a lot closer since adopting this locavore lifestyle than I ever was the other way.) But, enough about me - you'll get more of that as we go along. I have the expertise and the willingness - are you with me?

Let's share this journey together and taste the fun!! Please contact me at if you are interested in being part of my makeover project! Or just give me a shout out on my blog to support this new path!